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The need for DevOps has emerged in recent years as a result of a pressure to release product features and updates more frequently. The ability to deliver quality at speed requires increased collaboration and communication across the pipeline as well as adoption of automation, and this is what DevOps work towards.
There are many parts of the DevOps pipeline that can be automated. In this blog post, we’ll look at the role of test automation specifically, as it plays a key part in ensuring that bugs are found early, before they become costly and difficult to fix.
Read: What is DevOps?
If you’ve worked with agile or done some research into the agile methodology, you’ve probably come across terms like continuous integration and continuous development (typically abbreviated to CI/CD), as well as continuous testing.
Continuous testing is about testing earlier in the pipeline, testing more often, and testing across environments and devices. The goal of continuous testing is to ‘fail fast’, or in other words, to catch bugs early in the pipeline, where they are easier and less costly to fix.
Continuous testing is made possible by test automation.
To understand the need for automation in DevOps, consider the following scenario, where testing is performed manually.
A developer writes a piece of code for a product update. He/she submits the code into the code repository and continues working, now on a new piece of code. Meanwhile the code is entered into the build system and it is ready to be tested. A tester takes the code and runs it against a set of criteria to test its validity. The code fails the test. At this point, weeks, or even months have passed, and when the tester sends the code back to the developer, he/she has already worked on lots of other code. The developer must now spend time on figuring out what went wrong, fix it by writing new code, and send it forward to the tester once more. The cycle time becomes long and inefficient, and the costs high.
To avoid this scenario where testing becomes time-consuming, error-prone, and costly, automation is introduced.
Automation makes instant feedback loops possible, so that code can move from development to build, and further on to test with speed, and developers can be notified about any bugs or errors in code within days or even hours of them writing the code.
Automation also reduces the risk of error that typically occurs when a tester is tasked with highly repetitive work. Particularly businesses with large amounts of sensitive data can benefit from retracting human interaction from the equation as a means to lower risk.
Regression testing is an example of a type of testing that can, and should, be automated, as it is highly critical, but also repetitive and time-consuming.
Automation also makes it possible to increase the scope of testing. Many applications today need to be tested against several environments, on multiple devices and in multiple browsers - something that can be done in parallel with the right automation tool.
When tests are automated it becomes possible to run tests more often, at higher speed, lower costs and lower risk, thus enabling continuous testing.
Testers can then spend their valuable time on exploratory testing, test design, and other tasks that require their skill and critical thinking, instead of doing robotic work.
Although automated testing has plenty of advantages, there’s still one thing keeping many testers from automating: code.
Often, developers - the same developers who write the code for new features and updates - are required to write automation scripts.
This means that testing becomes dependent on developers, and bottlenecks emerge. As a consequence, automation set-up and maintenance consumes time and resources, and the benefits of automation are thereby diminished.
This tendency - for test automation to take up more time than automation in itself saves - is what we call the test automation paradox.
To avoid this tendency, a no-code test automation tool can instead be used.
Leapwork’s no-code automation platform requires zero coding, and therefore helps businesses overcome the challenges often faced when using conventional automation tools.
Learn more about no-code automation, and how it enables teams to succeed with DevOps in our whitepaper: Test Automation and DevOps.
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